Adelson adds to Macau action

Aug 29, 2006 5:35 AM

Throughout his business career, Sheldon Adelson has always wanted his enterprises to be the biggest and the best. Example: Comdex, the computer trade show that he sold to a Japanese firm for nearly $900 million.

So building the biggest casino in the Chinese protectorate of Macau surprises none of his competitors, except maybe his Asian neighbors who were not familiar with his background.

At any rate, Sands Macao, Adelson’s gambling emporium in Macau recently completed an expansion that brought the facility to 229,000 square feet. The additional area permitted the property to add 273 gaming tables — a 58% increase — and 365 slot machines. In all, Sands Macao now has 740 table games and 1,254 slot machines, all specifically designed for the Asian market.

Since it opened in 2004, the first casino not owned by Macau gaming magnate Stanley Ho, Sands Macao has welcomed more than 20 million visitors.

And, in the minds of a number of Wall Street gaming analysts, Sands Macao will benefit from the new Wynn Macau Resort that is set to open on Sept. 5.

However, gaming in Macau still operates under a dark cloud”¦the resurgence of underworld activity directly related to gaming in the area. Last week, two casino executives employed by Ho’s Golden Palace casino were murdered and a Hong Kong legislator/lawyer, who represented Ho’s sister, Winnie Ho, in litigation opposing her brother’s attempt to take his gambling empire public, was badly beaten while having lunch in a crowded McDonald’s restaurant. The hoods just stormed in beat the man while other customers looked in horror.

One Macau lawmaker was quoted as saying he feared the increasing competition for the gaming dollar would result in increased criminal activity.

"Now they can feed off the lucrative casinos”¦but they are bound to fight again once profits shrink," he said.